Hold your pants up with a chunk of the real deal — these rough-and-ready belts are made from authentic, used fire hoses and feature black enameled steel flip-top buckles and a matching belt tips.
After years of firefighting duty, each hose reflects traces of its own unique history, making each belt uniquely one-of-a-kind.
$35 each @ the anonüm Cargoh shop
related: more eco fashion finds from The Alternative Consumer
This article is provided by guest contributor Bill Hazelton.
Listen, just because a chemical company runs a long, wistful video full of rivers, owls and sad fiddle music, that doesn’t mean they actually care about the environment. With eco-friendliness hitting a fever pitch around the country, every major company in America is going green these days. They’re stuffing their marketing campaigns with words like “natural” and “organic” and inventing products like “clean coal” to win over scores of checkbook environmentalists who don’t know any better. The practice has gotten so bad that there’s even a term for it now – “greenwashing” – and if you’d like to see an example, check your wallet.
Nearly every major credit card company now offers a card with an eco-charity tie-in or a carbon offset rewards option. You may have such a card yourself. But making a credit card out of green plastic and slapping on a panda picture isn’t doing the environment any good. In reality, the only green these card issuers care about is the money in their pockets. Let’s take a look at just how some of these greenwashed credit cards are ripping off Mother Nature.
1) The Green America Visa Card. The design on the face of the Green America Visa is pretty much what you would expect from an eco-friendly credit card. It’s made of 55% recycled plastic. It carries the inspiring slogan “People. Planet.” It plugs Green America, the non-profit charity. Unfortunately, for all the exposure that Visa and issuing bank One PacificCoast are giving this worthwhile charity, they aren’t contributing much financially. Visa transfers only a portion of the card’s 2% processing fee to One PacificCoast. From there, the bank takes a cut and gives what’s left over to Green America. When you do the math, that amounts to fractions of pennies for every dollar charged.
2) The Salmon Nation Visa Card. One PacificCoast Bank and Visa have also teamed up to offer the Salmon Nation credit card. Though the charity is different, the contribution system remains the same – only fishier. Salmon Nation will only receive a portion of a portion of the miniscule interchange fee every time the card is processed. But hey, don’t let that stop you from “Making the Leap!”
3) The Bank of America World Wildlife Fund Card. Bank of America’s World Wildlife Fund tie-in card is another example of a product that’s more talk than substance. Though the sad, possibly drowning tiger on the card’s face might lead you to believe that the WWF is getting a decent kickback for its cooperation, the reality of the situation is that after a $100 sign-up contribution, Bank of America only gives the charity a quarter for every $100 you spend. At that rate, you’d be better off just sticking to your standard premier credit card.
4) The Bank Americard Brighter Planet Visa. Can your credit and debit cards really help fight climate change? According to the Brighter Planet card from Bank Americard, they can. How? By using your rewards points to purchase carbon offsets, of course. For every thousand dollars you spend, you’ll receive one ton of carbon offsets. The only problem with this little scheme is that carbon offsets are kind of a scam. Due to the convoluted logistics of many offset programs, there’s really no way of knowing whether your money actually went to a good cause or if it just ended up padding the checking account of some fuel industry executive.
5) The American Express Zync Card. The big selling point of American Express’s Zync card is its customizable rewards program. Cardholders can buy different “packs” that allow them to earn different types of bonuses and discounts whenever they spend. One of these packs, the “eco pack,” allows you to get double points whenever you shop at one of AmEx’s 5,000 select green merchants. So by giving back, you’re really just giving up money to for-profit retailers. But hey, whatever floats your boat.
When you really think about it, credit cards are credit cards, no matter the color of their plastic. While there are a few green cards on the market that will actually make a difference – like the Nature Conservancy Visa , which plants trees in your name – many of these purported “eco” cards are simply sales gimmicks. They use attractive sign-up contributions to lure in checkbook environmentalists, and then, like Cinderella’s carriage, the cards turn back into standard credit cards after a month. So if you really want to make a difference for the environment, try donating some money to a wildlife charity every month instead of just flashing that sad, drowning tiger at the register.
Bill Hazelton is the founder and CEO of Credit Card Assist, a leading pro-consumer credit card resource. Since 2004, he’s been providing American consumers with all the tips, tricks and news they need to navigate the world of personal finance. His on-site reports have been cited by the San Francisco Chronicle, the New York Post, Yahoo! News and more.
tree growing from wallet photo via shutterstock.com